Highway repairs are scheduled on weekends; those roads open again by 5:30 a.m. the following Monday. Why? So that commuters can get to jobs. What public road anywhere in the state closes at 7:30 p.m. on weeknights and doesn’t re-open until 6:30 a.m.?
One such road is the ferry to Anderson Island. Instead of investing in longer hours, the county wastes money on midday runs that are little used and keeps a spare boat at great expense. Pierce County spends more than $4 million per year on ferry operations and maintenance – twice as much as Skagit and Whatcom counties spend on their ferries – yet Pierce does not carry more riders and has shorter service hours.
According to Census 2010, fewer than half of the houses on Anderson Island are year-round residences. For most property owners, the island has become “a nice place to visit, but we couldn’t live there.” Policies which discourage working families from residing on the island are bad for ridership and fare revenue.
An island family with two kids in mainland schools uses 500 to 1,000 tickets per year – spending thousands in fares – while visitor households often spend less than $100 per year.
The self-supporting routes of the state ferry system all have large numbers of commuters. Unless Pierce County expands hours of ferry service so islanders can access regional jobs and education, taxpayers will have to increase their subsidy of the system.